I’ve been pleased with the direction the NRA has taken in the last decade. As an organization, they’re more protective of our rights than they were in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Before 1976, the NRA board was an exclusive club. And board members selected any new board members. The NRA revolt at Cincinnati in 1976 changed that. Board members could be selected by the membership. But those reforms have been eroded and the membership now has much less power than it had in 1980.
This year, there’s a separate ballot for the NRA bylaws, with 15 amendments. The proposed amendment package of the bylaws is an attempt to further weaken the power of the NRA membership. It’s effectively a coup designed to put all power of the organization in the hands of the board of directors. As with any group of part time board members, this means that a small group of insiders will have almost total control. They will decide who gets on the board and who does not.
The meat of the bylaw amendments is inside a rather lengthy total package. Some reasonable administrative changes are included, but you’re only allowed to vote yes or no on the entire proposal. The amendments would make it nearly impossible for the membership to nominate board members outside of the current power structure.
Currently, 250 signatures of voting members are necessary for a membership nomination. It’s difficult to obtain that many signatures, but not impossible. One of the problems with the suggested amendments is that it raises the number required to .5% of the votes cast in the previous election. Typically that would be around 500 or 750 signatures. Members with experience in the process know that this is a high hurdle unless the candidate is a national celebrity.
Item 12 takes away the possibility of a bylaw change at the annual meeting. Item 13 makes it virtually impossible for the membership to petition for a change, by requiring a petition to have the signatures of a staggering 5% of the number that voted in the last election. If such a Herculean feat were ever accomplished, item 14 allows the board to unilaterally undo the change.
Not all NRA members have voting rights. In order to vote in an NRA election, you have to be either a life member or have been a member for five consecutive years. Of all voting members, only about 5% voted in the 2015 elections, so your vote can have disproportionate weight.
Most voting members don’t know the people they’re voting for. As there are at least 25 slots to fill (26 in 2017), people tend to depend on the biographies printed in the NRA magazines to determine who to vote for. Prominent in the biographies: whether or not the candidate has been nominated or re-nominated by the nominating committee.
The NRA magazines are controlled by NRA management. That’s the nature of the beast. The NRA management also controls who is on the nominating committee. If you want to change the way the NRA does business, it’s unlikely that you will accomplish that by voting for the establishment candidates.
To be an effective NRA voter, don’t vote for 26 nominees. That’s what most voters do and it dilutes your vote. The candidates who receive the most votes win election to the board. If you know of only one candidate who you support, vote for that candidate. Just as importantly, do not vote for other candidates that you have little knowledge of. That maximizes the impact of your vote.
Jeff Knox of the Firearms Coalition, has watched the NRA board closely for decades. I’ve always found his recommendations to be well thought out. He’s recommending votes for three nominees to the board. From Jeff:
For the Board of Directors election, I am recommending you vote only for the following 3 candidates, and no others: Sean Maloney, Adam Kraut, and Graham Hill. There are others on the ballot who are good, but they don’t need our help.
The recommendation on the package of bylaw amendments is simpler. Just vote no. The bylaw vote is a separate ballot, so you don’t have to vote for a board candidate to vote on the bylaw change. It’s easy to fill the circle by the word NO completely, put the ballot in the envelope, sign it and drop it in the mail.
©2017 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice and link are included.